Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Lawmaker working on revamped bill
Va. board: Skating needs no regulation
Earlier this year, a bill passed in Virginia's legislature that would have required rink owners to stock helmets.
By KEISHA STEWART
THE ROANOKE TIMES
A state board tagged to study roller-skating safety has determined that the roller-skating industry does not need regulation.
The Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation issued a report earlier this month saying that the roller-skating industry needs no regulation, but recommended that the legislature set minimum safety standards.
Jim Anderson, owner of FunQuest roller-skating center in Lynchburg, was pleased with the board's conclusion.
Many rink operators adhere to standards set by the industry's trade organization, the Roller Skating Association, Anderson said.
"We already follow them on a voluntary basis," he said.
Sen. Marty Williams, R-Newport News, who introduced the initial bill, plans to introduce a new safety bill during the next legislative session, said Emily Swenson, his legislative aide.
The new bill, which is in draft form, would not require rink operators to provide helmets for skaters or make owners train floor guards to give emergency care. The bill also sets a higher ratio for floor guards, establishing one for every 200 skaters, Swenson said.
"It's totally friendly with the roller-skating industry now," Swenson said. "It has a lot less regulations. It's more suggestive."
The board made its decision after three public hearings in Virginia, including one in Roanoke in October.
The contentious issue surfaced this year, as a bill rolled through Virginia's legislature that required rink owners to have helmets for skaters.
The parents of 5-year-old Clark Guye inspired the bill. Clark Guye died in February 2001 while skating at the Peninsula Family Skating Center in Newport News. He fell and struck the back of his head, which medical examiners said caused his death.
When Clark's parents, Dawn and Gary Guye, learned there were no roller-skating safety laws in Virginia, the couple began pushing for change. Their focus has been to require children to wear helmets while skating.
Williams introduced the Roller Skating Safety Act, or Clark's Law, earlier this year. Clark's Law, which passed in the Senate and the House, required rink owners to make helmets available, train floor guards in emergency first aid, and provide one floor guard for every 100 skaters. But the legislature put brakes on the bill, directing it to the board to study the "feasibility and appropriateness" of regulating roller-skating rinks.
Most rink operators complained about the bill's helmet requirement.
Virginia doesn't require bike riders to wear helmets, they said. Also, outdoor skating caused more injuries and deaths than indoor skating, they said. The bill only focused on indoor skating.
Helmets would also cost operators too much, some said. They preferred that parents bring helmets for their children.
Buying helmets would have cost Dan McCarty, owner of Star City Skate and Play in Roanoke, nearly $15,000, he wrote the board.
The helmet requirement would have been "devastating" to an industry already facing a decline in business, McCarty said in a written statement to the board.
Dawn Guye worked with Williams' aides and a few skating rink owners to draft the new bill.
Guye hopes the bill makes people aware of the need for helmet use while skating, she said. A helmet might have saved Clark's life.
Since this thread is doubling as a Virginia General Assembly Agenda thread, I'm posting other articles relating to GA issues. We gotta watch them or they'll pass more nanny-state regulations.